Thursday night at Croydon Communicators was one of those nights which makes us all grateful to be Toastmasters and makes me proud to be associated with such a magical club.
A Night to Remember
This was the evening that had everything!
Before we even got started, the place was abuzz with excitement.
The doorbell wouldn’t stop ringing and by the time Troy stepped up to get the meeting underway, I’d counted 12 brand-new first-time guests sat in the audience.
And, Amy was back! I’d never seen so many beaming faces as there were when Amy came through the door. It was a flying visit before she goes off on her travels again, but we were all thrilled to see her and can’t wait until she’s back with us full-time in 2020.
Back to School
Norma led us through proceedings as Toastmaster, and got us off to a raucous start with a blood-curdling scream! It was certainly one of the most effective methods I’ve seen of releasing the nerves and tension.
Following the summer fun of Movie Night, a mentoring workshop and our club contests, this meeting had a real, ‘start of term’ feel to it, and Caroline got us all warmed up with an Art lesson to help us focus. It was one of the most original and fun warm-up sessions I’ve seen and it was perfectly pitched at all our first-time guests who were able to relax and get into the spirit right from the off.
Then we got into our prepared speeches.
First up there was Collins with his icebreaker. Has anyone ever broken the ice quite so effectively as Collins? I suspect not. He smashed it!
Collins looked like an absolute pro, who was delivering his speech for the hundredth time – not the first. He commanded the stage, captivated the audience, and gave us a speech packed with power and poignancy.
Next up we had Rob, who took us on a Quest for Discipline. This was a new kind of speech for Rob which really pushed him out of his comfort zone and gave him the opportunity to work on his storytelling techniques. The speech took on a magical quality and Rob used vivid language, wonderful gestures and versatile voice skills to really bring the speech to life.
Our final prepared speech of the evening came from our perennial visitor, Roz. Roz has fast gone from Toastmaster newbie to Toastmaster superstar and whilst nobody knew quite what to expect from her speech, ‘Misogynoir’ we certainly knew we were in for another public speaking masterclass. Roz’ speech took us on a profoundly powerful journey through history and she posed the question to us (and herself), ‘Should I deliver this speech in Middle England?’ The answer is most definitely, yes!
After the speech evaluations we went to our network break and again it was such a pleasure to see everyone mixing together and making the most of the evening. Our many first-time guests seemed completely at ease and that’s a testament to the friendly, welcoming nature of all our Croydon Communicator members.
First Rule of Table Topics... There Are No Rules!
After the break it was time for some rule-bending table topics.
I’d encouraged the guests to get involved if they felt up to it and I was staggered by how many of them rose to the challenge.
Coming out to a place you’ve never been before, with a bunch of people you’ve never met before and having the courage to come up on stage and answer a question, you haven’t heard before, must quite simply be the bravest thing you can do on a Thursday night in Croydon.
Seven of our first-time guests took on that challenge and I can only hope they all went home afterwards feeling extremely proud of themselves.
Where our members had inspired and educated in the first part of the evening, our guests picked up the baton in the second half and gave us one of the highest quality impromptu speaking sessions we’ve had during my time at the club.
Claire Shows Us 'Otto' Do it
Hot on the heels of some constructive, thoughtful and encouraging feedback from our topics evaluators, Gina and Sujay (Mustafa), Aseem came up to pose questions about the evening's events and launch sweets at unsuspecting members of the audience.
Then, it was time for our special guest from Covent Garden Speakers, Claire Otto to come up and give us a General Evaluation.
I have to say, often when I’m on stage I struggle to remember my own name, yet Claire went up, without any notes whatsoever to deliver a highly comprehensive, detailed evaluation of the entire evening, remembering every role player’s full name. It was incredible to see!
Claire gave us all invaluable feedback and it was a pleasure to have her join us for the evening.
Finally, we wrapped up proceedings with some well-deserved awards:
Best Speaker – Collins
Best Evaluator – Caroline
Best Table Topics - Matt
Icebreaker Award – Collins
President’s Award – Kevin
Well done and thank you to everyone involved in making this evening happen.
We have three meetings coming up in October and if they’re anything like what we experienced tonight – we’re certainly in for more treats than tricks!